Singing, gardening keep seniors healthy

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The Chinese-speaking community of Richmond is using different strategies to combat the negative effects of COVID-19 on mental health.

Watching sports, growing succulents and singing karaoke are just a few of the strategies Richmond seniors are using to combat the negative effects of COVID-19 on mental health.

The pandemic has hit the elderly hard and the situation is even worse within the Chinese-speaking community of Richmond, as language barriers can make some feel more isolated. But some have found innovative ways to meet the challenge.

Richmondite Daniel Chen, 75, said rooting for his favorite sports team has helped his mental health.

Chen, who has been a die-hard English Premier League (EPL) fan since its inception in 1992, said the bigger the sports fan, the greater the positive impact on mental health.

“I always pour myself a cup of coffee and watch sports. For some who prefer to watch sports in a stadium, it might not be the same experience, but it’s still a lot of fun, ”Chen said.

“Sometimes I can even hear my neighbors clapping when the players score a goal, then I feel like I’m not alone. We all support the same team.

Another senior from Richmond, Johnny Tai, did not expect that his lifelong hobby of growing succulents and cacti in his garden would benefit his mental health and that of his family throughout the year. past year.

Tai, who spent 17 years buying cactus seeds in Mexico, the United States and South Africa and planting them in her garden, told the Richmond News that gardening can immediately improve people’s moods, just like other types of common exercise, such as biking and jogging.

“Gardening keeps my family sane and we think we are the luckiest in this predicament. Every day we run around to take care of hundreds of succulents. Just watching them grow up makes us extremely happy and grateful for everything in life, ”Tai said.

“The most rewarding part is giving succulents to people who feel lonely at home. We will therefore launch an appeal to invite those interested in plants to bring one home. Having a full, vibrant palm in your home can be beautiful and lift your spirits.

While rooting for your favorite team or caring for a succulent is enough to keep some seniors mentally fit, others need more.

The Community Mental Wellness Association of Canada (CMWAC) in Richmond offers culturally and language-sensitive advice and support to those in need.

However, its founder in Richmond, Ahlay Chin, also understands that mental health needs to be supported in various ways, which is why she started a karaoke club for the elderly.

Today, the club is one of the most popular activities in the organization and some members are asking Chin to organize more.

“Your voice is the best way to express your inner emotions. When you sing, you put your whole soul into the song. Many club members have told me that they feel their emotions are fully expressed and that they all create a sense of connection between them. We feel closer and even connected after many songs, ”Chin said.

Meanwhile, Chin runs what she calls “a psychological first aid station” to provide a safe space for people who have questions and concerns about mental health. The program is managed by a team of professionals, including counselors, psychologists, doctors and psychiatrists.


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